NBA Bans Clippers Owner Donald Sterling for Life

Commissioner Adam Silver announces severe punishment for Sterling's racist remarks

Donald Sterling  los angeles clippers
Stephen Dunn/Getty Images
Los Angeles Clippers owner Donald Sterling.
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Aiming to close the book on "a painful moment for the league," NBA commissioner Adam Silver announced Tuesday that he was banning Los Angeles Clippers owner Donald Sterling for life, after the real-estate mogul was caught on tape making racist remarks.

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Silver explained that "effective immediately," Sterling would be forbidden from having any association with the team he's owned since 1981, and is barred from attending any NBA games or practices. He will also pay a $2.5 million fine – the maximum amount allowed under the league constitution – which will be donated to organizations dedicated to promoting tolerance.

"The views expressed by Mr. Sterling are deeply offensive and harmful. That they came from an NBA owner only heightens the damage and my personal outrage," Silver told reporters. "Sentiments of this kind are contrary to the principles of inclusion and respect that form the foundation of our diverse, multi-cultural and multi-ethnic league."

The commissioner also said that he would pressure the NBA's Board of Governors – made up of owners of the league's 30 franchises – to use its authority to force Sterling to sell the Clippers, a process he said can be accomplished with a vote by three-quarters of its members. 

"I will do everything in my power to ensure that happens," Silver said. "The process will begin immediately."

Silver said that the league conducted an independent investigation to determine whether the voice on the recording first obtained by TMZ was, in fact, Sterling's. And though the Clippers' owner had previously called into question the authenticity of the tape, the commissioner added that, during a conversation with the disgraced owner, he had confirmed the recording was authentic.

On the recording, Sterling can be heard chastising his girlfriend for posing in an Instagram picture with NBA great Magic Johnson, and for "associating with black people." In a longer version of the tape, published Sunday on sports site Deadspin, Sterling can be heard saying that he is responsible for providing "food … clothes … cars and houses" to Clippers' players, the majority of whom are black.

Those comments created a firestorm, with several players – including reigning MVP LeBron James – calling for Sterling to be banned from the league. Silver said that he hoped the NBA's swift and decisive punishment would satisfy those demands, and move the league towards a resolution.

 "I appreciate the support and understanding of our players during this process … we stand together in condemning Mr. Sterling's views," he said. "They simply have no place in the NBA."